Hungarian unemployment continues to shrink

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Hungaryʼs rolling average three-month jobless rate reached 3.6% in April-June, declining from 3.7% in the preceding three-month period and down from 4.3% in the corresponding period a year earlier, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Friday.

In April–June 2018, the average number of unemployed people aged 15-74 was 165,100, some 31,200 fewer than a year earlier, while the unemployment rate decreased by 0.7 of a percentage point to 3.6%.

The rate of unemployment among men aged 15–74 fell by 0.5 of a percentage point to 3.5%. For women, the rate of change was greater, with the jobless rate dropping by 0.9 of a percentage point to 3.7%. 

The unemployment rate among those aged 15-24 stood at 9.5%, down 1.5 percentage points from April-June 2017. Even so, this age group still accounted for almost one-fifth of all Hungarian jobless, the KSH noted. The unemployment rate among 25-54-year-olds - i.e. persons belonging to the "best working age" - dropped by 0.4 of a percentage point to 3.3%, while the rate among 55-74-year-olds was down 1.5 percentage points at 2.1%.

Out-of-work Hungarians spent about 16.8 months looking for employment on average during the period. About 42.9% of jobless people had been seeking work for one year or longer, i.e. were long-term unemployed.

At the end of June 2018, compared to a year earlier, administrative data of the National Employment Service (NFSz) show that the total number of registered job seekers decreased by 14% to 241,000.

55,000 more people in work year-on-year

In the period April–June 2018, the average number of employed people aged 15-74 was 4,474,600, some 55,000 - or 1.2% - more than a year earlier.

The employment rate among Hungarians aged 15–64 increased to 69.3%, up 1.2 percentage points on April-June 2017. The employment rate was 76.2% for men and 62.5% for women.

The number of employed included 167,000 Hungarians in so-called fostered work programs (public work schemes) and another 107,100 working abroad. The number of those employed on the domestic primary labor market rose 2.4% from a year earlier, while the number of fostered workers dropped 18.9%. The number of those working abroad was down 5.2%.

Employment among young people aged 15–24 changed within the limits of the sampling error, with an employment rate of 28.7%. The number of employed people increased in both the "best working age" group of 25–54 and the older, 55–64 age group, with respective employment rates of 84.5% and 53.5%. 

The employment rate among people aged 20–64 – the coverage regarding the development of employment objectives defined in the Europe 2020 Strategy – grew by 1.3 percentage points to 74.5%. The European Union has targeted raising average employment to 75% by 2020; in Hungary, the employment rate in this age group is currently 82.0% for men and 67.1% for women.

Cited by state news agency MTI, analyst András Horváth of TakarékBank said the number of employed could exceed 4.5 million during the summer months for the first time since the early 1980s, while the unemployment rate could sink to 3% by summerʼs end. 

Horváth predicted that the annual average unemployment rate could be 3.4% for 2018. He noted that the Hungarian labor market continues to move towards full employment, adding that the economy still holds workforce reserves of about 500,000. 

Péter Virovácz of ING Bank said he expects the jobless rate to fall to around 3.5% by the end of this year.

Unemployment and employment data for the next three-month period of May–July 2018 will be published on August 29.

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